Interview: Caroline Whittington of GiantLION
Caroline Whittington Young, designer of GiantLion, started her jewelry brand by accident. GiantLion, is inspired by simplicity, sentiment, and a refined homage to nature.
“I studied at Virginia Commonwealth University, and graduated with a BFA in Craft & Material Studies, with a focus in Metal and Ceramics. Initially, I focused on ceramics more so than metal, and began working on a line of porcelain dishes,” said the designer. Her move toward jewelry design was inspired by jewelry she inherited from her grandfather. “Around that time, I became interested in jewelry after receiving my late grandfather’s jewelry; signet rings, his wedding band, and other symbolic pendants. I wanted to create a more feminine and modern take on his pieces. Today, my work remains driven by the memories and sentiment behind jewelry.”
“Launching my brand as a jewelry line started as a bit of an accident. I intended to one day open a shop with many different items, with jewelry just a part of it. As I built the brand, I started with jewelry, and when the pieces started to gain popularity, there wasn’t much time for anything else!”
HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN INTERESTED IN YOUR JEWELRY?
"Absolutely, I've loved jewelry for as long as I can remember."
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR MENTORS.
“My greatest mentor is the artist Jaime Pelissier, one of my college professors. He taught me the most valuable technical skills, confidence, and that you must always learn the rules before you can break them.”
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH PRESS.
“I haven’t had much experience with press, beyond just being lucky enough that beautiful blogs and magazines have found my work," like Refinery29 and TrendHunter,"and feel that it’s special enough to share with their audience. I’m always so appreciative of the press I’ve received, large or small.”
Evelina wears the Long Bar Studs in sterling silver
DO YOU DESIGN CUSTOM JEWELRY FOR CLIENTS?
"It is very rare that I take custom orders since the launch of my line; however, in special cases I will do customizations of variations of our existing designs. Our Point Ring is quite popular as a wedding band and making a custom version in Rose Gold was a favorite of mine."
WHAT HAVE YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGES BEEN?
“I continuously have to wear many hats in my business, and that can be a challenge as there is often something new to keep up with every day. All my pieces are handmade, so keeping up with supply and demand can be a challenge, and that has certainly grown over the years. Running a business is a constant challenge, but ultimately, I can't complain!"
WHERE DO YOU FIND MOTIVATION?
"As a designer, my work is motivated by the fact that I am fulfilled by the art of making. I enjoy the design process, but I don't force it, and I am most fulfilled when in production mode. I don't tire easily from producing some of our classic pieces over and over,” like the long bar studs, “and I love knowing that my pieces will be spread around and enjoyed by others. The most rewarding part of my business comes from the customers that view my pieces as something sentimental, whether it is for themselves or someone else."